State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
I certainly hope so.
The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting Democrats might be ready to drop their proposed hospital tax as one of the provisions to fix the state’s $652.3 million revenue shortfall.
I am on record opposing any tax increase that is part of the budget repair bill.
No matter what economic study or report you look at, the conclusion is always dismal for Wisconsin when it comes to taxes.
The latest comes from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council chief economist Raymond Keating has just completed the “Business Tax Index 2008” for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Using 16 different tax measures to compile one score, Keating ranks the states according to their Business Tax Index. Among the factors Keating studied were a state's top personal income tax rate, a state's top individual capital gains tax rate, a state's top corporate income tax rate, property taxes, and gas taxes.
Wisconsin ranks number 32, near the bottom third of all the states.
Keating writes, “As Elvis Presley said: ‘A little less conversation, a little more action please.’ For example, more action is needed by elected officials in many states to make their state tax systems friendlier towards entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
I concur, having blogged extensively about Wisconsin’s unfreindly business climate that is severely hampering business growth and retention. Our high taxes coupled with one of the lowest per capita income rates in the country are forcing too many residents to leave the state.
Our state faces a revenue shortfall of $652.3 million, and yet some legislators in Madison want to increase taxing and spending even further.
Keating’s new study is yet another wake-up call to the Legislature and the governor to control excessive taxing and spending.
Read Keating’s entire piece.
Also, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. has more details on Wisconsin’s tax system and comparison to other states.
I will be holding a series of town hall meetings this spring throughout my district, Senate District 28. Please feel free to attend any of these town hall meetings. I look forward to seeing you and hearing your comments, questions and concerns. Here is the complete schedule of town hall meetings:
MONDAY, MAY 5
FRANKLIN 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Franklin Public Library • 9151 West Loomis Road
GREENDALE 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Layton State Bank of Greendale 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
5850 Broad Street
MONDAY, MAY 19
GREENFIELD 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Greenfield City Hall, Council Chambers
7325 West Forest Home Avenue
HALES CORNERS 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Hales Corners Public Library • 5885 South 116th Street
WEDNESDAY, MAY 21
BIG BEND/VERNON 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Big Bend Village Hall • W230 S9185 Nevins Street
MUSKEGO 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Muskego Public Library • S73 W16663 Janesville Road
THURSDAY, MAY 22
MUKWONAGO 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Mukwonago Town Hall • W320 S8315 Beulah Road
WEDNESDAY, MAY 28
WATERFORD 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Waterford Public Library • 101 North River Street
EAST TROY 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
East Troy Village Hall • 2106 Church Street
THURSDAY, MAY 29
NEW BERLIN 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
New Berlin Public Library • 15105 Library Lane
WAUKESHA 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Waukesha Town Hall • W250 S3567 Center Road
The top-notch menu includes the Lioness’ famous fruit pancake rollups with vanilla sauce, scrambled eggs, hot ham, pork sausage, hash browns, fresh fruit, rolls, butter, coffee, juices, milk, champagne, plus homemade desserts.
All proceeds go to an outstanding cause, the Wisconsin Lions Foundation Camp at Rosholt, Wisconsin. Since 1956, the Wisconsin Lions Camp has provided quality camping experiences to Wisconsin residents with disabilities free of charge.
Advance tickets are $8.50 for adults, $9 at the door, $2.50 for children under 12, free for children under 5, and include everything on the menu.
Call 262-786-5735 or 262-786-4449 for ticket information.
I hope to see you at the New Berlin Lioness Annual Champagne Breakfast this Sunday.
The state record of $3.43 per gallon was set May 26 and matched this week, according to AAA Wisconsin. The average price of unleaded gas is up more than 13 cents from a month ago and nearly 55 cents from a year ago.
Locally, the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel reports, “the Milwaukee figure was roughly 12 cents higher (than the national price), $3.51, according to the AAA motor club. The previous high for the Milwaukee area was $3.49, set on May 24, 2007.”
I think we can agree that now is the worst time to raise gas taxes. But that is exactly what the Governor Doyle’s administration is suggesting.
Two weeks ago, on April 2, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi testified before a House panel in Washington D.C. that the federal gas tax, now 18 cents, should be raised to 40 cents to pay for improvements to the nation's infrastructure.
Busalacchi testified, “Raising taxes is never an easy decision. For the good of the country, we have to make this investment,” according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.
That means if the governor’s Transportation Secretary had his way, motorists in Milwaukee would currently be paying $3.91 per gallon.
Just before the latest upsurge in gas prices, the Green Bay Press Gazette editorialized on April 15:
“Busalacchi is a member of the Natural Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, which recently submitted its final report. Among its findings is a gap of 71 cents to 88 cents per gallon between ‘currently sustainable’ federal highway costs and the amount of dollars the tax is expected to bring in through 2020. In other words, more than doubling the federal gasoline tax is just the start.
This is the same Frank Busalacchi who has worked with Gov. Jim Doyle to shift state transportation funds about three-quarters of a billion dollars in the last two budgets. First there was a $500 million raid on the gas tax revenues to boost the education fund, saddling DOT with the equivalent in debt service. Now Doyle is proposing $190 million in additional borrowing so that the cash from the gasoline tax can help balance the budget.
Which is it? Is the transportation fund so low that the gasoline tax needs to be doubled on a nationwide basis, as Busalacchi preached in Washington, or is the fund so flush that it can be used as a slush fund for any state purpose every couple of years, as Busalacchi has practiced in Madison?”
Compare Busalacchi’s idea to John McCain’s consumer-friendly proposal to suspend federal gas taxes between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
While gas prices continue to rise and Busalacchi preaches they should go up even higher, more and more motorists are filling up their tanks and then taking off without paying. The Door County Advocate reports station owners are seeing more drive-off’s, but usually catch the violators, thanks to camera systems that focus in on license plates.
Most, if not all of you reading this blog would never drive away without paying for your gas, and that is very smart.
Wisconsin statute 943.21 (1m) (d) reads, “Whoever does any of the following may be penalized… Having obtained gasoline or diesel fuel from a service station, garage, or other place where gasoline or diesel fuel is sold at retail or offered for sale at retail, intentionally absconds without paying for the gasoline or diesel fuel…..”
Drive off without paying and you are subject to a Class D forfeiture.
A Class D forfeiture may result in a fine up to $200. That amounts to 56.98 gallons of gas.